Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 (2 stars)

A disappointing, derivative sequel from Mercury Steam

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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2

Castlevania is one of the longest running series in videogames. It practically invented the fantasy action adventure format. Starting way back in 1986 there have been over 30 titles released across multiple platforms stretching back to the NES. 2010’s Lords of Shadow was one of the few videogame reboots that really worked. It kept the essence of Castlevania's action and arcane law but gave it a fresh spin as you once again battled vampires and other nasties in a fantasy world. It also looked fabulous with many an amazing vista stunning players as they traversed this ancient kingdom.

Now we find Dracula (aka Gabriel Belmont, again voiced by Robert Carlyle) back from the undead, resurrected in a clichéd future world battling Satan and his many minions while still haunted by his past. Our terminally depressed vampiric hero can also jump to another realm more familiar to Castlevania fans exploring dungeons and catacombs.

Sadly Mercury Steam's sequel is a mess. The first hour in particular is a chore packed with tutorials, cinematics and a dull retelling of the entire Lords of Shadow legend. You’ll be itching to actually get to any meaty action as your gameplay is constantly interrupted, which is a shame as it features probably the best boss battle of the entire game.

Something just doesn't gel. The action feels fiddly and cumbersome as you switch between your multiple weapons and magical powers. There's also some lax signposting as to what to do or where to go next (which is counter balanced by giving away too much info when you come across various puzzles).

Stealing liberally from God of War and Devil May Cry, the innovator has become the imitator. It would be forgivable if everything worked as smoothly as the first Lords of Shadow but it’s muddled mix of borrowed ideas. The future world is the most tiresome, a seemingly endless mass of identikit corridors and tech labs. There's no personality whatsoever. The new stealth sections in particular are dull and irksome. Dracula can now transform into a swarm of rats or possess enemies but what should be powerful new tools in your arsenal are just a rote exercise in basic puzzling.

The medieval world is more impressive visually and boasts most of the game's highlights. There are some great creature designs and certain action sequences are admittedly fairly thrilling. However with over 20 hours of gameplay it can't help but out stay it's welcome. A real disappointment.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 - Exclusive Debut Trailer

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